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Friday, April 30, 2010

Guinea’s New Transitional Government: Emerging Issues for U.S. Policy

Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

A "government of national unity" was formed in Guinea on January 15, 2010, a year after a military junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), took power in a coup d'état. While the CNDD has not been dissolved, it has agreed to share power with civilian opposition groups in the lead-up to presidential elections, scheduled for June 27, 2010. Defense Minister Sekouba Konate has assumed executive power as interim president, while opposition spokesman Jean-Marie Dore was named prime minister. 

The formation of a unity government followed six weeks of political uncertainty after CNDD President Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara was shot in December 2009 by a member of his personal guard and evacuated for medical treatment. The appointment of the unity government has temporarily stemmed international concerns over political instability in Guinea and its potential spillover into fragile neighboring countries, such as Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. However, concerns remain over the political will to hold elections, impunity and disorder among the security forces, and the potential for "spoilers" to disrupt Guinea's long-awaited transition to civilian rule. 

The United States, which had been highly critical of Dadis Camara's erratic leadership, has expressed support for Guinea's transitional government. At the same time, certain restrictions on U.S. bilateral assistance and targeted travel restrictions against CNDD members and others remain in place. As electoral preparations advance, a number of issues will confront U.S. policy. These include U.S. relations with the Guinean government; the status of U.S. assistance and travel restrictions on CNDD members; the monitoring of progress toward elections; U.S. policy toward a potential International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of alleged CNDD human rights abuses; and potential U.S. support for security sector reform in Guinea. 

The 111th Congress continues to monitor events in Guinea and the potential for regional destabilization. Recent legislation includes H.Res. 1013 (Ros-Lehtinen), a bill condemning the violent suppression of legitimate political dissent and gross human rights abuses in the Republic of Guinea, introduced on January 13, 2010, and passed by the House on January 20, 2010; and S.Res. 345 (Boxer), a resolution deploring the rape and assault of women in Guinea and the killing of political protesters on September 28, 2009, introduced on November 9, 2009, and passed by the Senate on February 22, 2010. For further background on Guinea and issues for U.S. policy, see CRS Report R40703, Guinea: Background and Relations with the United States, by Alexis Arieff and Nicolas Cook.

Date of Report: April 23, 2010
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: R41200
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Global Economic Crisis: Impact on Sub-Saharan Africa and Global Policy Responses

Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

Martin A. Weiss
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

Vivian C. Jones
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

Sub-Saharan Africa has been strongly affected by the global recession, despite initial optimism that the global financial system would have few spillover effects on the continent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated in 2009 that average economic growth in Africa would slow to 1%, from an annual average of over 6% to 1% over the previous five years, before rebounding to 4% in 2010. As a region, Africa is not thought to have undergone a recession in 2009. However, most African countries are thought to require high rates of economic growth in order to outpace population growth and make progress in alleviating poverty. 

The mechanisms through which the crisis has affected Africa include a contraction in global trade and a related collapse in primary commodity exports, on which many countries are dependent. Foreign investment and migrant worker remittances are also expected to decrease significantly, and some analysts predict cuts in foreign aid in the medium term if the crisis persists. Africa's most powerful economies have proven particularly vulnerable to the downturn: South Africa has experienced a recession for the first time in nearly two decades, and Nigeria and Angola have reported revenue shortfalls due to the fall in global oil prices. Several countries seen as having solid macroeconomic governance, notably Botswana, have sought international financial assistance to cope with the impact of the crisis. At the same time, a number of low-income African countries are projected to experience relatively robust growth in 2009 and 2010, leading some economists to talk of Africa's underlying economic resilience. 

The 111th Congress has monitored the impact of the global economic crisis worldwide. The Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-32), provided $255.6 million for assistance to vulnerable populations in developing countries affected by the crisis. While an initial House report indicated several countries, including five in Africa, should receive priority consideration, the subsequent conference report did not specify recipients. In August 2009, the Obama Administration notified Congress that four African countries—Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Zambia—would benefit from the funds appropriated in the supplemental. More broadly, U.S. policy responses to the impact of the crisis overseas have focused on supporting the policies of multilateral organizations, including the IMF, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank (AfDB). These organizations have increased their lending commitments and created new facilities to help mitigate the impact of the global crisis on emerging market and developing countries worldwide. 

This report analyzes Africa's vulnerability to the global crisis and potential implications for economic growth, poverty alleviation, fiscal balances, and political stability. The report describes channels through which the crisis is affecting Africa, and provides information on international efforts to address the impact, including U.S. policies and those of multilateral institutions in which the United States plays a major role. For further background and analysis, see CRS Report RL34742, The Global Financial Crisis: Analysis and Policy Implications, coordinated by Dick K. Nanto.


For Further Information:


Date of Report: April 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 34
Order Number: R40778
Price: $29.95

Document available electronically as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail or call us at 301-253-0881.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Guinea: Background and Relations with the United States

Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

Nicolas Cook
Specialist in African Affairs

This report analyzes developments in Guinea, a poor West African country, following the death of longtime president and former military leader Lansana Conté in December 2008. It focuses on the military's seizure of power after Conté's death, U.S.-Guinea bilateral relations, and U.S. policy in the wake of the coup. It also provides background on Guinean history and politics. 

Guinea is a Francophone country on West Africa's Atlantic coast with a population of about 10 million. It is rich in natural resources but characterized by widespread poverty and limited socioeconomic growth and development. While Guinea has experienced regular episodes of internal political turmoil, it had been considered a locus of relative stability over the past two decades, a period during which each of its six neighbors suffered one or more armed internal conflicts. At the same time, democratic progress was limited, and Guinea has never undergone a democratic or constitutional transfer of power since gaining independence in 1958. 

On December 23, 2008, following the death of President Conté, a military junta calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD, after its French acronym) seized power. It named as interim national president a previously relatively unknown figure, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. After taking power, the CNDD dissolved the constitution and legislature, appointed a civilian prime minister, and promised to hold presidential and legislative elections. Elections were repeatedly postponed, however. On September 28, 2009, Guinean security forces opened fire on some 50,000 civilian demonstrators in Conakry who were protesting the CNDD and Dadis Camara's perceived presidential ambitions, killing many. The protest sparked wide international condemnation, including from the United States. 

On December 3, 2009, Dadis Camara was evacuated to Morocco after he was shot and wounded by his chief bodyguard. He was later flown to Burkina Faso. Following several weeks of political uncertainty, an agreement was signed providing for the creation of a transitional government of national unity prior to presidential elections that are slated to take place in June 2010. On January 15, the new transitional government, headed by Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Sekouba Konaté, was formed. A longtime opposition leader, Jean-Marie Doré, was named Prime Minister. 

Following the coup in December 2008, the United States suspended some bilateral development aid and all security assistance to Guinea. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) governance and humanitarian assistance programs, which comprised a substantial portion of the U.S. aid budget in Guinea before the coup, were not affected by the suspension, nor were U.S. contributions toward Guinea's electoral process. After the September 28 crackdown, the United States called for Dadis Camara to step down and announced targeted travel restrictions against CNDD members and selected associates. The African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and European Union (EU) imposed an arms embargo. The AU and EU also imposed additional targeted sanctions on CNDD members and associates. 

Legislation related to Guinea in the 111th Congress has included H.Res. 1013 (Ros-Lehtinen); S.Res. 345 (Boxer); and H.R. 3288 (Olver), which was signed into law as P.L. 111-117 on December 16, 2009.

Date of Report: March 22, 2010
Number of Pages: 36
Order Number: R40703
Document available electronically as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail or call us at 301-253-0881.